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The Rosary and Christmas

If you are looking to carve out a few peaceful minutes for yourself—whether now or any other time—I say: Give the Rosary a try.

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In one of his Christmas sermons, St. John Henry Newman speaks of Christmas as “a time for innocence and purity and gentleness and mildness and contentment and peace.” In this season, he says, we are reminded that Christ comes to us “in all serenity and peace.”

For most of us, nevertheless, the holidays are a time of hustle and bustle, of big meals, noisy parties, much coming and going—and not a lot of peace. I don’t mean to spoil the fun, but if you’re looking for a little peace at a time when it may be in short supply, I have a remedy to suggest: Try saying the Rosary.

The Rosary is both the simplest of vocal prayers and also in some respects the most sophisticated. Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, newly elected president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, calls it “a prayer of the heart, a way of contemplation.” Pope St. John Paul II called it his favorite prayer.

Some people nevertheless refrain from saying the Rosary because, quite simply, they don’t know how to do it. Some may have taken a shot at it years ago, but they found the exercise flat and disappointing, and soon gave it up. Others, believing the Rosary too old-fashioned for their taste, may never have made the attempt. But if you are looking to carve out a few peaceful minutes for yourself—whether now or any other time—I say: Give the Rosary a try.

But be smart about it and consult a guide, such as the recently published Praying the Rosary with St. John Paul II, written by Gretchen R. Crowe and published by Our Sunday Visitor. This little volume can be a big assist to people coming new to the Rosary as well as to people who’ve been praying the Rosary with great spiritual profit for many years.

(Disclosure: Insofar as a I am a contributing editor of Our Sunday Visitor, Gretchen Crowe, editorial director for periodicals at OSV, is one of my bosses. Not only that, she is also a good friend. It’s a dandy little book just the same.)

The volume, composed last year while Gretchen was waiting for the birth of her second child, naturally is arranged according to the 20 decades of the four mysteries of the Rosary–Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious. Each section contains a brief “spiritual fruit” written by her and reflecting the virtuous trait embodied in that episode and reflected in the life of Pope John Paul, a Scripture passage for reflection, and an excerpt drawn from the Pope’s writings.

Moving and sometimes dramatic photos accompany the text. There is also an impressive foreword by Andreas Widmer, a former Swiss Knight, now at the Catholic University of America, who began praying the Rosary at the encouragement of John Paul II, and a brief biographical sketch of that Pope by me.

In this way the book, like the Rosary, takes you step by step through the life of Jesus. It doesn’t replace the gospel narratives but supplements them, helping the reader interiorize them and become better acquainted with Christ. As St. John Henry Newman also once said of the Rosary, it “gives us the great truths of his life and death to meditate upon, and brings them nearer to our heart.”

So if the hurly-burly of this season or any other is getting to you, take a few minutes out to sit down, collect yourself, and say the Rosary. This little book can help.

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About Russell Shaw 292 Articles
Russell Shaw was secretary for public affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference from 1969 to 1987. He is the author of 20 books, including Nothing to Hide, American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America, Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity, and, most recently, The Life of Jesus Christ (Our Sunday Visitor, 2021).


  1. Hoping that these are very close to the excellent meditations used by the K.O.C., for the First Sat devotions that are from St.John Paul 11 s writings as well .
    Our Lord , who saw the faith of those who brought the paralytic to Him and healing him – we are blessed to ask for the faith and merits of The Lord and His Mother , thus even of all of heaven, to heal all the broken , paralysed areas in the lives of us all too . The need for spiritual warfare ,in the spirit of the psalms that ask for destruction of the enemies, we are given the grace to do so , against the enemy spirits that can target us or those in our lives , mostly at the heart realm .

    ‘Bright as the sun, fair as the moon ,terrible as an army in battle array ‘ –
    The Mother who knew well that the whole purpose of the coming of The Son has been to help us to be set free , from the kingdom of the enemy , to help us live in The Spirit ; no wonder Rosary and related devotions have been well promoted by holy
    souls , including our present Holy Father – may families world over find great graces , by taking in its riches into deeper levels .

  2. For many years now a small group of Catholic ladies gather once a month (every week during Lent) and pray The Patriotic Rosary. It is a little booklet guiding us through each decade praying, “We plead the blood of Jesus over (state) and ever soul in that state”. At the end of each decade there is an essay by one of our founding fathers.

  3. Pope Francis , on the good of praying the Rosary –
    similar articles on other occasions as well .
    Hope same helps to undo the fears around the ‘earth figure ‘ , which can even be seen as a stretch of the verse ( Psalm 65 ) – ‘let all the earth adore Thee and sing to Thee..’ , even as the controversy helped to ensure that same is not seen as a goddess , also conveyed by the Holy Father’s own nonparticipatory manner on the occasion . The blessing imparted to same , in the style of St.Francis and the wolf , in a Garden consecrated to St.Joseph and St.Michael , hopefully also to have brought forth blessings and deliverance as needed to the area afflicted by effects of pagan errors .
    The courage shown by the Holy Father , in his long possibly very tiring as well as risky journeys , to places in need of the simple truths of the Gospel – an evidence of his trust , in The Mother . r
    Reluctance to have added phrases that can bring fear/confusion , into those whom he wants to feel welcomed as part of the family , those who have stayed away for various reasons , into the warm heart of a Mother , without more terms – that too understandable .
    Blessings !

  4. As an adult convert (St. Patrick’s Day, 2013)I came to praying the Rosary from an almost complete disregard for the whole business. “So what?” I thought, after the first time I prayed it. Somewhere along the line I asked God to give me a devotion to Mary, only because all the great Catholics I knew were devoted to her. In short, I got hooked. Over 4+ years of praying the Rosary daily (ok I sometimes miss)I find comfort, insight, depth perception, inspiration, and above all closeness to Christ. Does Mary’s soul magnify the Lord? The Book says so. And like with all good magnifying glasses, when I look through her, in the Rosary, I see Him more clearly. Who doesn’t want that? Calling all adult converts: praying the Rosary WORKS.

  5. “the 20 decades of the four mysteries of the Rosary”

    Or there are any number of classic books such as, for example, by St. Louis de Montfort, about praying the 15 decades of the three sets of mysteries of the Rosary – Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious.

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